Parents back taking kids out of school for holidays in term time
WA parents have hit back at the Education Department over its concerns about students skipping classes to go on holiday, arguing the cost of trips and giving children experiences of other cultures are major benefits of the practice.
The debate, prompted by comments made by Department director-general Sharyn O’Neill about the increasing trend of children skipping school for holidays, has seen overwhelming support for allowing parents to take their kids away.
A poll on The West Australian’s Facebook page has shown more than 70 per cent agreeing with this.
Mandurah single mother Kaycee Yeates, who took her eight-year-old son Archer out of school in term one this year for a family holiday to Bali, said there had been a lot of benefits to the trip. Ms Yeates argued her work schedule and the prohibitive cost of travel during school holidays had led her to book the mid-term trip.
“We’d never had a proper family holiday together,” she said. “We’d never been overseas or interstate ... so I wanted them to experience that. My son’s teacher ... gave me some work sheets and she told us to keep a journal about it.
“I think the holiday was fantastic for them — my son’s school teaches Indonesian, so it was a good experience and when he went back to school he was more inclined to listen because he got to use the language in real life.
“Not everything can be taught out of a book.”
But one academic has stressed parents should not put a cheap holiday during school time ahead of their child’s education.
University of WA educational policy lecturer Glenn Savage said research had shown just five to 10 days away from school could have a negative effect on a child’s education.
Dr Savage said it was highly debatable whether students learnt more from the experience of travel than they would have in the class room.
“Obviously there are some benefits of travelling to other cultures, but it’s hard to argue kids hanging out in shopping malls or going to water parks for a week is going to do much for them, in comparison to learning in a constructive curriculum in school,” he said.
“If parents are removing kids from school solely for the purpose of saving money on a holiday during the off-peak season or accommodate their work schedules, then I think that’s a real issue.
“The wants of parents are being put before the educational needs of the kids. I think that’s the issue — partly I think that’s to do with a lack of understanding and awareness about the impacts of removing kids from school, and the benefits of a consistent and disruption free school term.”